Rethinking the Banning of Popular Human Haulers
Muhammad Zubair, Research Assistant, Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA) :
In 2002, the government of Bangladesh banned the three-wheeler public transports in Dhaka city and four wheeler human haulers (popularly known as ‘Legunas’) were given rout permit as an alternative. Since then, a total of 5,156 human haulers have registered with BRTA until this July, 2018. The Regional Transport Committee (RTC) approved to operate Legunas in 159 of the 251 routes of the capital.
On September 4, the DMP Commissioner Mr. Asaduzzaman Mia announced the ban on Legunas all of a sudden at a media call quoting that, “These Legunas are responsible for indiscipline and accidents on road. These Vehicles are operating illegally with no route permits.” He, however, gave permission to operate in outskirts of the city. In the following day, police requested Leguna owners not to run these vehicles in a meeting of Regional Transport Committee (RTC). On the other hand, the labour leader Golam Faruk denies the allegation that they have no rout permit, made by DMP Commissioner Mr. Mia and warned of protests until their demands are met. In this regard, the BRTA Director (road safety) Mr. Sheikh Md Mahbub-e-Rabbani said that, “It’s only the DMP Commissioner who knows what was the reason of the decision.”
However, this abrupt decision of banning causes a tremendous suffering to the day to day commuters. In many feeder roads where these Leguna used to ply, the office-goers, school and college going students are suffering a lot now. While they could travel a long distance by giving a minimal fare in Leguna, they now have to bear huge expense as they are using rickshaw, or cng-run auto wheelers to travel that distance. Moreover, they also have to wait a long time to get any other vehicle to reach their destination and they are being late in office, workplace or educational institutions as a result. It causes a huge pressure of passengers on other vehicles and aggravates the possibility of accidents on road.
It cannot be denied that, these shabby human haulers are prone to commit road accident as most of them old and unfit to ply. The drivers plying these vehicles also unruly, under-age and most of them do not possess driving license as well. But, the sudden decision without making any alternative means to travel for day to day commuters cannot be acceptable. The sufferings of general passengers should also be kept in mind, while taking any decision. If the Legunas do not possess rout permit in a particular rout, then those Legunas using that rout can be banned, not the all. The removal of unregistered, unlicensed and unfit Legunas is always commendable by general people. By regular checking of license of the Leguna drivers, the propensity of accident can also be reduced.
So, it is the demand of the time to reconsider the decision taken by DMP Commissioner by taking the sufferings of the commuters into the consideration. Instead of banning all Legunas, the government may ban those which run into the main road in respect of which there is no rout permit given by the BRTA. If it is not possible, then there should be an alternative transport system for general commuters.